Friday, September 21, 2018

Our Citizenship

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Our citizenship is in heaven. And
we eagerly await a Savior from
there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
—Philippians 3:20

I grew up in the decade immediately following the end of World War II. Our nation made so many sacrifices to respond with might and power to a two-front war and to come to the aid of our allies. Young people today simply do not have any concept of the enormous stress this War placed on almost every single person who was alive during this time period. These same young people would do well to spend an hour or two reading about this time in the life of our country and trying to imagine what it would have been like to be living during such an event.

My childhood was a time of great patriotism and also great fear. We were extraordinarily proud to be citizens of the United States of America. We were proud of those who had served and were still serving in our armed forces. We were proud of our flag. We were proud of our Pledge of Allegiance. We were proud of the fact that America was a great melting pot of people from many nations who had come here to start a new life, to retain the best memories of their homeland, but to first and foremost become Americans. The many becoming one was celebrated. Diversity was not shunned. Rather, it was accepted with reverence. But, what was revered even more was how these diverse people had all grasped hands and eagerly embraced a new identity.

The fear of my childhood came from concern that we would all die from a nuclear attack initiated by the Soviet Union. We had seen the result of the relatively small atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We knew that even greater bombs now existed, including the hydrogen bomb. We practiced in our classrooms how to seek shelter, never realizing that the meager shelter provided would hardly protect us from a nuclear assault.

When the Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades took place, we stood at attention as the military personnel marched by carrying the flag of our nation. We cheered the stern looks on the faces of these young men and women. We longed for the day when we could join their ranks.

We felt similar awe for those who served on the police force and fire department. We were proud, so very proud of what our nation, state, county, city or town represented. We were proud of our way of life. And, we were keenly aware of the sacrifices that had been made to secure and preserve that way of life.

So much has changed in my lifetime. When I stop to think about how profoundly everything has changed, it takes my breath away. But, in the midst of all the change, one thing remains constant. The Apostle Paul expressed that “constant” in a most elegant way when he wrote these words recorded in Philippians 3:20:

Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am still one who celebrates what our nation once was. And, I am one who laments with great sorrow what our nation has become over the course of my lifetime. But, at the same time, I am filled with hope in the reality that I am really a citizen of a far greater kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

The words written nearly 150 years ago by Edward Mote come to mind:

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

Let me urge us this day to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). And, let us draw strength from the reality that we are, indeed, citizens of the great Kingdom of God.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Priceless Gift

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“If you then, though you are evil, know how
to give good gifts to your children, how
much more will your Father in heaven give
the Holy Spirit to those who ask for him.”
—Luke 11:13

God has given His children many truly wonderful gifts. Not the least of these spectacular gifts is the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus.

But, God also realizes that, though He has redeemed us, we continue to live in a sin-scarred world. We are surrounded by all manner of evil. Satan still prowls around looking for whom he might destroy (1 Peter 5:8).

So, God has given us yet another priceless gift: the gift of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Luke quotes the words of Jesus Himself, as found in Luke 11:13:

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for him.

“A good and perfect gift from God” (James 1:17)—that certainly describes the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is our Comforter, our Guide, our Defender, our Teacher, our Friend. He is the One who enables our spiritual formation and rewards our obedience.

As we launch out into another day, let’s thank God for this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. And, let’s tune our spiritual ears to listen for the Spirit’s voice, as He directs us on the pathway that He has laid out before us.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Learning from the Heavens

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.”
—Psalm 19:1-2

How often do you look up into the sky?

Okay, I know as a kid you might have laid on your back in some field, or on a rooftop, and stared upward. On a sunny day, you could watch the birds fly and you might even have seen the contrails of a jet aircraft as it made its way to some far off destination.

Similarly, at night you might have observed the moon, the stars, or even some distant planet—at just the right time of the year. But, whenever you looked upward, you had a sense of wonder and amazement. You knew that the universe was some place bigger than where you lived. You sensed that some all-powerful Creator had put it all into place. For moment, you even thought that He did that just for you.

We sometimes forget how wonderful those childhood experiences were. How open we were to the thoughts that flooded our minds and imagination. How glorious it was to have limitless possibilities set before us.

I’m an old man now. But, I can still remember those days. They were so filled with promise, and hope, and even a bit of longing for a peek at what was to come. Now, I have experienced many things that have robbed me a bit of that openness and free-floating thinking that seemed so easy as a child.

But, God has not changed. We can still see the glory of who He is by looking upward to the skies above. That’s what King David was writing about when he declared in Psalm 19:1-2:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

We can still learn from the heavens. We can still look upward and see the handiwork of God. We can glory in what God has created. We can honor and magnify and worship Him for who He is. We can declare His glory. We can speak words of exaltation. We can show His heart of love.

This new day, let’s make an effort to look upward and learn from the heavens. Let’s point the way to others that they may see who God is and have the same joy in their hearts that we have in our own hearts. That will be a fitting testimony to this wonderful God who loves us so very much.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

God says...

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


He says, “Be still, and know that I am
God; I will be exalted among the
nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
—Psalm 46:10

One of the things that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ learn, sooner or later, is to listen to what God says. In the vast majority of cases, that means “listening” to what God says through His written Word, the Bible.

Fortunately, the more a Christian reads God’s Word, the more a Christian comes to appreciate the beauty and elegance of God’s “voice.” That’s why spending time reading the Bible is such an important discipline in the life of one who follows Jesus.

The Psalmists have captured many wonderful truths from God. This makes the Psalms an important, even cherished, part of most believers’ favorite readings. Psalm 46:10 is no exception. Here, the Sons or Korah, have penned an important truth, reporting what God says:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

How often we need to be reminded to just stop whatever we are doing, get ourselves to some place where we can wait in quiet, and allow the “knowing” of the Holy Spirit to wash over us. If you haven’t had that experience lately, I commend it to you wholeheartedly.

As we begin another new day, let’s take time to be still and know that God is the great “ I Am.” He is worthy of our devotion. He is worthy of our time. He is worthy of our attention. He is worthy to recognize.

Know that God is exalted above all the nations. Know that God is exalted in the earth that He created and in us, His dearly loved children. Know that every beat of our hearts, every breath that we take, comes to us as a precious gift from this magnificent and wonderful-beyond-all-measure God.

Now, dear ones, that’s the way to start this day!

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Handling Grievances

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against
someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
—Colossians 3:13

Supposedly, Rodney King—who became famous when some Los Angeles police officers mercilessly beat him—once uttered: “Can’t we just all get along?” The answer, of course, is, “No, we can’t!”

We do seem to often rub each other the wrong way. Just this past weekend, in talking over lunch with some friends, I tried to express my frustration with a particular political figure. Speaking in hyperbole, I said something about reaching into the television screen and slapping this particular individual. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone sitting at the table that I greatly admire. Immediately, this person recoiled at my words. Instantly, I regretted saying them, even though I knew I was exaggerating for effect.

We are more prone to disagree and argue with each other than we are to simply find ways of allowing people to be who they are without succumbing to the urge to take exception to what they might say or what they might do.

The Apostle Paul warned the Christians at Colosse using these words found in Colossians 3:13:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

God really does want us to get along with each other. At the same time, we are to hold each other accountable and help each other deal with our besetting sins.

At the start of this new day, and every new day, we should begin by determining to help our brothers and sisters in Christ by accepting them for who they are, recognizing that, just like us, they are not yet perfect in their spiritual formation, and doing what we can to bear with them and also quickly settle any grievance we may have with them.

If we do this, we will show the world how God’s love has transformed us. And, transformed we are, and transformed we will become, if only we trust in God’s mercy, grace, and abiding love.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Consequences of the Small Gate

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is
the gate and broad is the road that leads to
destruction, and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow the road
that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
—Matthew 7:13-14

In the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, the Lord Jesus Christ teaches His disciples about several very important concepts necessary for proper spiritual formation. Among the topics that Jesus covers is His discussion of the way to eternal life.

Recognizing that Jesus Himself is the way, the truth, and the life and that no person comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6), He did make some comments that should prepare all Christians for the kind of life they will find themselves living, if they choose to faithfully and obediently follow in the footsteps that He has left for us.

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus shares these words:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

This instruction is not so much a teaching of the kind of action that a believer must take. Rather, it is sharing rather distinctly the kind of life that will naturally follow a believer who chooses obedience to God’s will and to His Word.

You see, the way of Jesus is not an easy way. Devotion to Christ will lead believers into very narrow passageways where they will find themselves hemmed in on all sides by those who want to minimize, and even destroy, the gospel.

Yes, the Holy Spirit will lead us along the right pathway. But, there is a definite price to pay for faithfulness. We cannot earn our way. But, by determining to follow the pathway God gives us, we will be subjected to many and interesting consequences—not all of which are pleasant ones.

As we start this new day, let’s keep our minds and hearts clear about the price we will pay for obedience. Not so much in our doing. But, more so in what will be done to us by a world that rejects the power of Christ’s love and sacrifice.

We do well to understand that following Jesus will subject us to the same kind of hatred that He experienced. Naturally, the Holy Spirit will comfort us and give us strength. But, we must not think for one moment that the natural world will easily accept our allegiance to the King of Kings.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

In the High Places

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he
makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”
—Habakkuk 3:19

The British writer, Hannah Hurnard, in the middle of her life when she held to strongly orthodox beliefs, penned a great Christian classic in the fabulous little book, Hinds Feet on High Places. Written in 1955, and re-published many times since that date, the book traces the journey of a young woman named “Much Afraid,” as she traveled from her family, “Fearing” to the “High Places of the Shepherd.” This allegory packs so many wonderful truths into a relatively few paragraphs.

Hurnard drew the idea for this wonderful book from the writing of the Prophet Habakkuk, as recorded in Habakkuk 3:19:

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

God is our Great Enabler. He gives us the ability to tread ever upward in our spiritual formation, in our dependence on Him, and in our quest to represent Him well to the people around us who need His love and His care. We can most certainly celebrate this imbued power of God, as we begin this new day.

Let’s be sure to thank Him that He enables us to tread on the heights. We can rely on His mercy, grace, and abiding love to empower us as His dearly loved children.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.